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Proceeding from the notion of the artist as actor and from an interest in the nature of the creative process, Actions was a catch-all term for live works presented inside art galleries or on city streets in the late 1950s and the 1960s by artists such as Yves Klein and Piero Manzoni. Around 1960 Klein started to make paintings with ‘living’ brushes—nude women covered in paint and ‘blotted’ onto canvas. Manzoni's ‘living sculptures’ consisted of individuals signed by the artist. ‘Aktionismus’ was a group of Viennese artists who created thematically related Actions beginning around 1960. They explored Freudian themes of erotic violence using bodily materials such as blood, meat, and semen in specially staged events. Their investigation of the dark side of the psyche was partly a reaction against the interest in creative abstraction which had characterized the 1950s. Actions and Aktionismus both anticipated the body art which followed in the later 1960s and 1970s.

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